Category Archives: Joseph Thomas of Wake, Chatham and Moore NC

This line is believed to have moved from Bertie County into the area of Wake, Chatham, Moore counties ca, 1771.


Born ca. 1747, Joseph Thomas died in Chatham County NC prior to the inventory and sale of his estate dated 3 Dec 1819. We have learned much about Joseph’s family from land grants, conveyances, court entries, and the names of those who purchased from his estate. But, do such records capture the entire family as indicated in so many online genealogies? And what ever happened to Joseph’s children Micajah, Catherine and William who we know so little about? I’ve been assured that the early generations of Joseph’s descendants all remained in the area of Moore and Chatham Counties NC, but, is that the truth? I’ve also come to believe otherwise and new research will begin to bridge family gaps extending well beyond the state of North Carolina.

About Micajah Thomas, he appears in numerous land records in Wake before buying and selling land among family prior to receiving a land grant in Moore County. By 1805 it appears he disappears from record other than his listing in the 1810 Moore County Census. And after that point his whereabouts appears to be unknown. Beyond Micajah, what do we know of Joseph’s children William and Catherine?

From Joseph Thomas’ 1819 estate sale listed in part below, both William and Catherine are listed as purchasers. And with that bit of information, I decided to trace available records for neighbors and others listed in the last and important Thomas family document. Joseph Thomas Estate Page 3

From the above estate sale you’ll see Catherine and William Thomas buying alongside a person named Micajah Baggett who was likely born in Wayne County NC. And in the 1820 Moore County census, Micajah Baggett is enumerated among the families of John, Joseph and Frederick Thomas.   By 1830, he is still enumerated (in yellow below) in Moore County alongside Wm Thomas, John Thomas, Martin Thomas, Frederick Thomas and Capt John Thomas. Other neighbors include John Shephard, Wm Womack and Wm Yarborough.  t

Believing the name Micajah Baggett to be uniquely different and therefor easy to locate, it didn’t take long to discover the next move. In 1840, young William Thomas is enumerated in Marion County Georgia next to William Wommack. Also living in Marion County are Micajah Baggett, John Shephard, and Andrew M Shephard.

Apparently Micajah Baggett and Joseph Thomas’ daughter Catherine met and married in either Moore or Chatham County NC around 1820. John Shephard above is likely the son of Andrew Shephard who sold land in Moore County to Philip Johnston who then sold it to Joseph Thomas. And remember that Voluntine Braswell’s tract on Bush Creek in Chatham County passed through the hands of John Shephard before being owned by the Thomas family and later Ishmael Roberts.

In Marion County GA, the 1842 last will and testament of John Sheppard names daughter Mary Thomas. In 1850, the 65 year-old Mary Thomas is enumerated in Buena Vista, Marion County in the home of Osborne and Mary Blair. Mary Blair is Mary Thomas’s daughter. The 1850 Marion County census also enumerates 54 year-old William B Thomas with wife Sarah and children Moore, Asa, John, and Laurel. In 1854, Chattahoochee County was created from western Marion and it’s there where Wm. Thomas and M. Baggett are found:ttt


It seems the Thomas family in Marion and Chattahoochee Counties begin to disappear in the 1850’s and beyond. What happened to William Thomas’ children?

Going back to the first probate record (on page one) found in the earliest Marion County record online it the estate of Henry Thomas. Please take a look below and notice who purchased from his estate and likewise who did not:henry

This post is pretty mangled and for that I apologize. However, in the roundabout way, it’s clear that at least two of Joseph’s children moved to Georgia. And for our THOMAS family Facebook Usergroup, an important challenge lies in connecting several lines in Alabama linked presently by DNA only. One of the families is that of Henry J. Thomas who died in Elmore County Alabama. Henry’s father is Andrew Thomas who married the widow Jane Wood Daily in 1854. The young family appears in 1860 Montgomery County as:


Born 1822 in North Carolina, Andrew Thomas’ given name is a clue I’ve thought would eventually reveal his story. Is it possible Andrew is the son of William in Marion County? And, of all the luck, who is Henry Thomas who died in early Marion County? And, note that one of the buyers of the estate happens to be Micajah Bagget, husband of Joseph Thomas’ daughter Catherine! Could Henry be a member of our family? And, what do you see in the name Andrew? Andrew Shepherd was a large figure in the area along the early Chatham/Moore County line. If his son’s daughter Mary married into the family of Joseph Thomas, would it not make sense for them to have a son Andrew Thomas? The age is right and just maybe Andrew Thomas in Montgomery County Alabama is the son of Henry. And did Henry marry Mary Shephard?

There’s still very much to learn if we are so blessed. Someone with better ties to Marion County GA needs to plow ground there in hopes of further connecting the dots. Note that John Shephard is interred at County Line Primitive Baptist Cemetery, Marion County GA.


In my last post, conveyances by Joseph Thomas in Wake County indicated that ca. 1798 his family was in process of moving the short distance across the Cape Fear into Chatham County. And now, we’re about to go there, to plow new lands thick with our Thomas heritage. In what’s now Lee County NC, the largest family file at the county library is that of the Thomas family.   The family is huge and still going strong today. But before moving forward, let’s take a quick look at Joseph Thomas Senior and what most researchers believe to be his immediate family. Also so as not to confuse, the Joseph I refer is identified in records as literate (able to sign his own documents) and goes by title senior in order to distinguish himself from a son of same name. Note that it’s strongly believed that Joseph Senior is himself the son of a man named Joseph Thomas.

In no particular order, the children of Joseph Thomas Senior are believed to be:

  1. John Thomas b. 1770-1775
  2. Frederick Thomas b. 1770-1780
  3. Micajah Thomas b. 1770-1784*
  4. Martin Thomas b. 1770-1800
  5. Catherine Ann Thomas b. 1770-1800*
  6. Joseph Thomas b. 1771-1772
  7. Benjamin Thomas b. 1775-1776
  8. William Thomas b. 1790-1800*
  9. Allen Thomas b. 1796-1800

We’ve already been introduced to Joseph Senior, John, Micajah, and Joseph Junior in the records of Wake County. And now in Chatham and Moore counties, we’re about to learn of Frederick, Martin, Benjamin, and Allen Thomas. And later, we’ll learn of Catherine and William. Of all these kids, little info has been provided for three (in red asterisks). What happened to them and what’s their story? The storyline is about to get much more interesting; but for now, let’s look at the family’s initial land acquisitions as they move beyond Wake County:

DSC_9123Grant #1511 Chatham NC, ent – – -, surv 18 Oct 1797, iss 13 Dec 1798. Issued to Jno. Thomas, assignee of Joseph Thomas, being 95 acres on the Moore County line adjoining his own and the lands of Micajah Thomas and — Parham.

DSC_9121Grant # 1514 Chatham NC, ent —, surv 19 Oct 1797, iss 13 Dec 1798. Issued to Joseph Thomas being 275 acres on the Moore County line adjoining his own, Micajah Thomas’ and Thomas Partridges’ lands.

micajahGrant # 1035 Moore NC, ent 29 1798, surv 3 Jul 1798, iss 13 Dec 1798. Issued to Joseph Thomas, being 70 acres on both sides of Bush Creek and the Chatham County line adjoining the lands of Jno Cameron and a hill on the SW side of Wm Parham’s. Chainbearers: Micager Thomas, Elisha R. Yarborough.

DSC_9119Grant # 1691 Chatham NC, ent 11 Nov 1799, surv 2 Feb 1801, iss 14 Nov 1801. Issued to Joseph Thomas, being 150 acres on the waters of the Cape Fear adjoining his own, Walker’s, and Partridge’s lands. Chainbearers: Frederick Thos, Bejn Thos.

I love to draw on paper the physical shapes of old land grants and conveyances. Using a scale of 1 pole (16 ½’) equals a millimeter, I draw my ancestral lands and even the lands of their neighbors as far out as I can stand. Once in hand, the paper “plats” are like pieces in a child’s puzzle and can be joined together in map form. But, it’s not so easy. These puzzles offer the clever beauty of a chameleon lizard as the look of each piece (and entire puzzle) changes appearance over time. Each new conveyance offers the opportunity for mutation by way of the ever-changing interpretation of preceding records. At first a plat map made of original grants is pretty simple. Most of the pieces fit together nicely and the resulting display is somewhat predictable. But sometimes there are lost records or mistakes and grants that are issued wrongly or something legally happens requiring the land to be reissued in a new form. Sometimes reissued or later conveyances of grants are similar in appearance but are not exactly the same as the original. Also, conveyance by way of deeds and estate distributions infuses an enormous opportunity for change. People acquire multiple tracts of land only to someday die and have it all uniquely divided by committee to satisfy the numbers and demands of their heirs …a totally different shape matrix is introduced!

So, with the help of my little deck of playing cards, let me show you the lands along the Moore /Chatham County line. The videos below are about our Thomas family and also about the community where they lived. I want you to see it all the way I do, to understand how the changing landscape evolved with our history. I want you to understand how I come to my conclusions. So please, it’s important that you start with video one and work your way through them all. Please hit reply at the bottom of this post and let me know if you have any questions, concerns or additions. This is an initial reading of the puzzle and I’m sure there are mistakes. More can be gleaned through the collective eyes of others. Also, note that hopefully by later this year, and presented online, I’ll have all the lands within this area platted out to include original legal descriptions along with their later conveyances.


It’s time to turn attention back to research here in North Carolina …to the family of Joseph Thomas and of their move from Wake County to land along the Moore/Chatham County line. Arriving in Wake County around 1772, by the 1790’s, court minutes chronical the coming of age of Joseph’s children. Listed in crews working the road to Braswell’s Ferry in Chatham County, by the late 1790’s, members of the family are also documented as being insolvent. Such records foretell of change and of the family’s move across the river.

-June 1790. Ordered that the following hands be added to the Road where William Hays Esq. is overseer of towit: Joseph Thomas, Micajah Thomas, John Thomas, Joseph Thomas Jun. and Nathan Allen.

-December 1794. Ordered that the following jury, to wit, Andrew Peddy, Elijah Watson, John Burt, Joseph Thomas, Joseph Thomas Junr., Micajah Thomas, John Thomas, Daniel Oaks, Stewart Hamiliton, Carnaby Stephens, and Richard Hucaby turn the road leading from James Gaines’ esqr. to Braswell’s ferry and report theron to the next Court.

-INSOLVENTS allowed James Huckabie Collecr. Of the Taxes in Capt. Farrers District for the year 1795: Elkin Jones one poll, Joseph Green 1 poll, Andrew Hambleton one poll, Hardy Lil one poll, Jesse Jent one poll Jesse Lewis one poll, Henry Powel one poll, Hugh Mills one poll, Nathan Powell one pol, Asa Thomas one poll, Ezekiel Smith one poll, Jasper Turner one poll,

Also in Capt. Peddy’s District for the year 1795: Jos. Thomas one poll, John Thomas one poll, Hillery Thomas one poll, Thomas Berney one poll, William Cook one poll, Thomas Hays two poll, Stewart Hambleton one poll, John Lett one poll, Stephen Matthews one poll, Edwin Stephens one poll, William Spivey one poll.

-September 1797. In Capt. Peddy’s District: Revil Coleburn one poll, John Cook one poll, William Cook one poll, Micajah Thomas two poll, Simpson Wood one poll, George Williams two polls, Amey Gross one poll, William Smith one poll.

We have a clear record of Joseph’s land entries and of the various tracts he acquired through grants issued by the Secretary of State. He and other players in his life likely bought and sold an even larger amount of land though such possibilities go unknown as a court house fire in Wake County destroyed a few of the early deed books. Also, as Joseph and family moved piecemeal to neighboring Chatham County, the selling off of their holdings in Wake County does not fully account for all the land that had originally been granted them. With that in mind, here’s the only three surviving deeds recording the family’s divestment of land in Wake County.

Deed R-35 Wake County NC, 31 Dec 1800, recorded Aug 1808. Joseph Thomas of Chatham County NC to William Hayes of Wake. Being 366 acres on the waters of Buckhorn Creek adjoining the lands of Hayes (formerly Sellers), Wommack, Peddy, Daniel Oaks, Phillip Smith’s (now William Hayes). Witnesses: Elleck (x) Howard, Willia (x) Sugg.

Deed R-320 Wake County NC, 20 Feb 1800, recorded Feb 1803. Joseph Thomas of Chatham County to James Huckabee of Wake. Being an unidentified amount of acreage on both sides of Little White Oak Creek. Witnesses: Jesse Winbourn, James Parker.

Deed U-277 Wake County NC, 1 Jan 1802, registered Feb 1808. Joseph Thomas, David Mimms, & Jacob Leven to William Ragland of Chatham County. Being 169 acres on the east side of the Great White Oak Creek adjoining the county line and Moses Hicks and Woodard’s lands. Witnesses” Thomas (L) Ash, David (x) Waldon, Richard Adams.

At this point it’s time to focus beyond Wake County to Chatham and Moore and to the dynamics of life there. Rather than inundating you with a huge amount of land conveyance data, in this series of posts, I’m trying a new approach in rolling out future chapters of this family story. Please take a look at the following short video. I cannot begin to imagine how to communicate the broken trail of land records in a clear and succinct manner. This video, and others following, will illustrate the move, the changing times as well as my thoughts on how all the loose parts come together. I believe that how we come to learn something is as important as the intended lesson itself. So, please click on the following link and enjoy …I hope this works!






Filled with a curious hunger to fully understand our Thomas family, once again we come together to review and build upon prior efforts of telling our story. Some of us have seemingly clear paths through northern tier counties of North Carolina back to Virginia where records become fewer and therefore more difficult to link. There are others, like myself, whose only connection lies in DNA and the educated guess that somehow, we will someday clear a more perfect path into this family.

For us all, there is John Thomas who appears in 1620’s ship lists, a census/muster list, and a later land record near Jamestown VA. And, then there’s the story of Sea Venture, a storm, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Of all the possibilities, the connection to this place and time is nothing less than magical. It’s a great challenge! We’re talking John Rolfe and Pocahontas, the formative years prior to Colonial Williamsburg, the opening chapter of our American story.

Much has been written about this earliest of American Thomas families. Published 1984, there’s Edison H. Thomas and his “Thomas and Bridges Story 1540 –1840.” And in 1977, Robert E Thomas wrote “The Thomas family in 300 years of American history.” There’s the writings of notable researchers like historian Hugh Buckner Johnston whose mother was Ruth Thomas born in Wilson County NC. And, there’s also indispensable research materials such as “Cavaliers and Pioneers. Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants” dealing specifically with records sourced in early Virginia.

As we move forward, we’ll need to work with others in the family who have differing viewpoints. There will be differences with what was believed and written in the past. There will be disagreements both with the traditionally accepted story as well as among ourselves in deciphering the meaning of new finds. Yes, there will be new finds and new stories to tell. Some will merely add to the story while others may figuratively shake the ground from where we believed our beloved ancestors once lived.

For many years I’ve looked towards Virginia with fear and an anxious internalized kicking and screaming of Noooooo….. don’t drag me there!!! It’s a big leap going back through records I have little knowledge. It expands the tree exponentially and with that is a much larger circle of information that’ll need to be verified. There’s much written on this stuff and until now (ha-ha), I was not part of the history. But things have changed, like myself, there is a growing crop of cousins who’ll be paying us a visit in the years to come. We’ll learn of each other through DNA and by improved understanding of the records. We’ll know each other and the story of each other’s family. So, if any THOMAS finds a kinship and is interested in learning more, please don’t be shy. Join us, share, and most importantly, participate in the painless Y DNA testing. We need more participants across the far-reaching spectrum of our Thomas family.

A PEEK AT 2017

14509223820_15ac8d055c_zGenealogy is much like fishing, it’s ultimately a skilled game of tricking history out of its lost and treasured past. Family history doesn’t just happen, winners in this sport know what records to pull and how best to increase the odds of extending their family circle. And like fishing, we plan, execute and ponder the situation always hungry and hopeful for the next big strike.

backlash-1024x1024With a goal of shaking the tree, records are worked slowly and methodically. Sometimes the results roll out nicely and simply walk you further down a path you’ve been traveling. Sometimes new discoveries are cataclysmic, crashing everything in the past you’ve believed to be true. Much like when a big fish hits, sometimes all goes well while on other days the reel backlashes and throws all expectation to the wind. Driven by discoveries made through DNA, this year has thrown information at us too fast to digest. It’s given us much to consider and as with a fishing backlash, we need to stop and take care of what’s happening now. It’s easy. We simply need to loosen it all up, pick away …pick away some more, and  be willing to tug a little at the line in search of clues and key bits of information that surely must be there.

So, let’s look to the future. In no special order, here’s a list of personal goals for 2017:

  • this past year, my Thomas family of Anson NC connected by DNA to Joseph Thomas who is believed to have relocated to the area of Wake/Chatham/Moore County from a large and well documented family living earlier in Bertie County. DNA testing of other known lines out of Bertie is very much needed to verify the broader tree.
  • the lives of the Joseph Thomas family in Wake County and neighboring Chatham/Moore Counties will be explored. A major part of this effort lies in the platting of family lands.
  • due to finds in Wake and Chatham, a past effort to plat family lands along Richardson Creek in Anson County has stalled for now and hopefully will be worked on in the upcoming year.
  • are we kin? ….I’d like to reach out and connect with descendants of other Thomas families living close to Joseph Thomas in Wake/Chatham/Moore Counties NC.
  • in places like Hancock County GA and Coosa/Elmore Counties Alabama, I’ll continue to explore early Thomas families and seek out living descendants for DNA testing.
  • new discoveries require the updating and rebuilding of my website
  • realizing much of this year will be spent with the new Thomas family discoveries, I remain committed to writing about my Love, Pless and the many other families and of other stories of folks who lived along the Rocky River.
  • and, with the discovery of new family, we need to get to know each other. We need to visit, befriend, and share time. We need to establish opportunities to visit the home lands along with the people and places the family holds important.

So, ‘Happy New Year’ to us all and here’s to the hopes that 2017 will be a year for the record books! With a little organization and added work, I think we can continue to break down the wall leading to our past. There’s light at the end of this tunnel as we’ve witnessed the power of DNA. For now we simply need to chip away at the new crack in our wall. More importantly, we now have new family and will muddle our way forward in hopes of making the discoveries meaningful.


1004671_390242614431172_777391602_nWithout supporting documentation, both online and traditional family histories portray Joseph Thomas of Wake/Chatham Counties NC to be the son of Joseph and possibly Ann Spivey Thomas of Bertie County NC. This may be true, it’s just there’s nothing written from which to base it! And, none of the histories I’ve seen address Joseph’s neighbors in Wake County who he interacted with and who were also named Thomas. And to muddle the situation, just to the east in neighboring Johnston County, there lived Elisha Thomas who had earlier removed from Bertie County. This Elisha may be the son of Barnaby Thomas, the brother of Joseph Thomas who possibly married Ann Spivey. So, Joseph Thomas of Wake County and Elisha Thomas of Johnston County should be first cousins and it seems the two should have known of each other. And, this Elisha Thomas in Johnston County was listed in that county as executor in the 1763 last will and testament of a person named Joseph Thomas. There’s nothing online or in hard copy connecting Joseph and Elisha to each other or to Joseph Thomas in Wake.  And further yet, in Wake County, it appears the descendants of Joseph Thomas’ neighboring Thomas family included at least one with first name Elisha.

It’s mind boggling. How to make sense of this genealogical mess and where do we go from here? I have yet to figure out the full story of Joseph Thomas who appears ca. 1772 in the newly formed Wake County NC.

It’s maybe time to take a breather and let folks know where we’re at and to ponder the future and of where the records may carry us all. Please take in the following status report in hopes we’ll be able move forward with the same understanding. And, if you disagree, please stand up and be heard! Feel free to add to the discussion if you have differing opinions.

About Joseph Thomas of Wake County NC – Joseph L Thomas is believed to be born in Bertie County NC on 24 Feb 1747. What is the source of Joseph’s birth date? Some say his middle name begins with the letter L and some say his middle name is Luther …what is the source? Joseph appears ca. 1772 in newly formed Wake County and is believed to have married Martha Godwin. A neighbor of others with surname Thomas, this Joseph and family lived in Wake County until ca. 1800 when his family spread through Chatham and Moore Counties in a region that became present day Lee County.   The children of Joseph and Martha Thomas are believed to be:

  • John Thomas – born ca. 1770-1775, married Mary Oaks in Wake County and died ca 1850 in Moore County NC.
  • Joseph Thomas, Jr-born ca. 1771, married Dora Paschel and may have died in Moore County NC.
  • Frederick Thomas-born ca. 1770-1780, married Nancy Cox and died 1835 in Moore County NC.
  • Micajah Thomas-born ca. 1770-1780, appeared in records of Wake, Chatham and Moore Counties and disappears.
  • Martin Thomas-born ca. 1770-1790, married to Penelope Gunter and died 1830’s in Moore County NC.
  • Catherine Ann Thomas-born 1770-1800
  • Benjamin Thomas-born ca. 1775, married Priscilla Gunter and died ca 1819 in Chatham County NC.
  • William Thomas-possibly a son, born ca. 1790-1800, enumerated in 1830 Moore County NC.
  • Allen Thomas-born ca. 1798, married Ann Weldon, died 5 Mar 1881 in Moore County NC.

About Jacob Thomas. DNA and a single road order in early Wake County just may connect to a land grant in Anson County NC, leaving open an unproven possibility that the Thomas family of Anson descend through a Jacob Thomas who once lived near Joseph Thomas in early Wake County NC.

Jonathan and Nathan Thomas and others. Jonathan Thomas married in Wake County on 16 Apr 1781 to Sarah, the daughter of James and Sarah Holland. In 1794, Nathan Thomas was listed as administrator to settle Jonathan’s estate. Entered in 1792, surveyed in 1794, and issued in 1797, Nathan Thomas received a land grant in which Jonathan Thomas served as chain bearer. Asa Thomas also served as chain bearer on other grants issued to Nathan Thomas. Nathan Thomas disappears from Wake by 1800 and may be the Nathan listed later in Moore County NC census records.

Asa Thomas. Served in the Revolutionary War in the stead of Etheldred Jones to whom the said Asa lived in the household while learning the trade of blacksmithing. Asa never received a land grant or deeded land. He was listed as chain bearer for grants issued to Nathan Thomas. He married Pleasant Matthews, daughter of Joseph and Ann Matthews. Joseph Thomas’ son Micajah is named in the last will and testament of Redmond Matthews who may be Asa Thomas’ brother-in-law. Asa was listed as insolvent ca. 1797 and removed to Anson County NC where he’s listed in the 1800 census. In 1854 Wake County, and on behalf of Asa’s war record, Asa’s son David applied for a Revolutionary War pension.

Wanting to push the story of our Thomas family beyond the records of Wake County NC, it’s painfully frustrating knowing I must settle in a bit longer to the task of fully exercising this special time in our history. At a point where most have broken off the search to jump an unclear trail of records to another place and time, I’m still amazed and consumed by what’s not being said about our Thomas family. It’s the untold stories of Thomas who lived near and interacted with our own.

Soon, I’ll post possible connections through possible children of Asa’s son David. Note my use of the word possible J   Also, I’ll begin to look across the county line into Chatham to hopefully uncover some interesting connections leading to Indiana and Georgia. Stay tuned!


We’ve looked at the early THOMAS lands in Wake County and weighed the possibility that a Jacob Thomas in Wake is the same one who shows up later in Anson County NC.   The family of Joseph Thomas is about to move a few miles south from Wake where they would settle on the Caper Fear along the county line of Chatham and Moore.

Before tracing the Joseph Thomas family further, records are screaming at me that there’s more to see and understand in Wake County. The name Joseph Thomas traces back so easily to Bertie County and I’m afraid that others in the same family migration have been ignored. And, as DNA now links me to this early place and time, I really want to search all options in order to learn as much as possible about my family. So, where to start?

Dated 17 December 1796, Redmond Matthews wrote his last will and testament and bequeathed a bay horse called Richmond to Micajah Thomas. The will is witnessed by Nathan (L) Thomas (jurat) and Valentine Austin. As Micajah is likely the son of our Joseph Thomas, who is this Nathan Thomas?  And, who is Asa and Jonathan Thomas who also lived nearby?

will 1

Last Will and Testament of Redmond Matthews